Saturday, March 25, 2017

     Last night, while discussing future travel plans, I heard myself say, “We need to do this while we can.” Wow. I never thought I’d hear myself make such statements, but as we grow older, we recognize the value of every healthy day. Lately, I have been hanging onto each one as though I were in a tornado hanging onto a telephone pole—my body horizontal to the ground. After a recent terrifying 24 hours in our local ER, I counted the minutes until I could be home in our tiny house where opening the refrigerator or brushing my teeth at the bathroom sink suddenly became luxuries. 

     With the world in such a frightening state of discontent and random terror, moments of peace and joy have become all the more precious. I read posts from Facebook friends who speak of pain, loss and seemingly unbearable stress, and I count my blessings while praying for strength for all of them. Many of such posts come from former students half my age or friends from previous neighborhoods who I only see on social media. Today, I know of at least a half dozen people in my circle who are enduring incredible pain on a daily basis. I cannot imagine living like this, but they have no choice. I ask myself sometimes, “Why them?” There are no easy answers to such questions.

     At dessert last night at a 78-year-old friend’s lovely home, we were surrounded by priceless family heirlooms representing his own life of travel and collected treasures as well as those of his parents long gone. I sat there feeling like I was immersed in history. I felt small and humble, almost insignificant among treasures from Italy and paintings whose origins I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t help but think “Where will all our treasures go one day when we are no longer here?” Our children don’t value what we do. Who will? Museums? Goodwill stores? Life suddenly seemed so fleeting. But then I looked at my wonderful husband and two lovely friends, and I felt warm inside and savored the moments we were spending together. I listened to my 78-year-old friend play his beautiful piano as though he were on stage at Carnegie Hall. He has written a story, a beautiful tale of fantasy and sparkle which he is putting to music for a ballet. Who does this at his age? Someone with a melody in his soul and a longing to let music be his voice when he no longer has one. 

     The two friends with whom we enjoyed a memorable evening have known each other for over 50 years. They share a history and a bond that many will never know. The reason they orchestrated the evening last night was to celebrate their friendship and to share some of their memories with us. What a beautiful jewel they have—a gem they’ve polished over the years, sharing in their family’s history and marveling at each other’s successful paths far away from one another. They each have resumes to die for, and they have each suffered loss. They have weathered many storms, and they are two of the most positive people you could meet. Being in their company last night was a gift. The photos we took will now sit proudly in my album as well as theirs, and all that positive energy will be shared with our own circle of friends. Traveling “while we can” may cost money and physical energy, but spending time with positive people whose lives enrich us costs nothing and leaves its warmth in our hearts. Thank you, Joe and Linda.